Champions Mateo and Williams-Goss: It still feels just unbelievable

2023-06-07T14:05:41+00:00 2023-06-07T14:35:57+00:00.

Bojan Brezovac

07/Jun/23 14:05

The season finale of the Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is a special three-way interview with host Joe Arlauckas speaking to two key members of the freshly crowned 2023 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions: head coach Chus Mateo and guard Nigel Williams-Goss

By Eurohoops team/

Joe Arlauckas celebrates the 2023 champions by hosting Real Madrid head coach Chus Mateo and guard Nigel Williams-Goss for this season’s final episode of the Crossover.

The season finale of the Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is a special three-way interview with host Joe Arlauckas speaking to two key members of the freshly crowned 2023 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions: head coach Chus Mateo and guard Nigel Williams-Goss. Together they reviewed the regular season, went into detail about Real’s comeback from an 0-2 deficit in the playoffs against Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade, and discussed all the big moments from the Final Four in Kaunas.

When they spoke, Williams-Goss was still on a high from winning the title.

It still feels just unbelievable to me. I said all year long that my only goal was to win the EuroLeague. This is something that I’ve thought about, dreamt about since my first year in Europe,” Williams-Goss elated. “In 2018, my first professional season, my first EuroLeague game that I ever watched in person was Madrid and Fener in the EuroLeague final, cause it was in Belgrade at the time and I was playing at Partizan. And so I watched that final game and that image of winning the EuroLeague was in my mind. For that to be a reality now, I still can´t describe it.”

Even though Real was among the very strongest teams throughout the regular season, it stumbled late and it nearly cost Los Blancos dearly. A loss at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv in the regular-season finale knocked the team from second to third place and set up a matchup with Partizan. Not only did Real lose the first two games, but at the end of Game 2, a fight broke out, both benches cleared and the game was halted before the full 40 minutes were played. The incident left players from both teams suspended for some of the remaining games in the series.

The incident might have broken some teams, but it had the opposite effect on Real Madrid.

It really brought us closer,” Williams-Goss said.

“It was a very bad feeling for everybody. Everybody started to join as a team and think ‘Hey, we have to play basketball as best as we can.’ And this is what happened in Belgrade. I think that everybody played good, a good game, everybody together. We kept together in this bad moment. Everybody felt very bad in the locker room and the coaching staff,” Coach Mateo explained.

There was some frustration in this moment. 0-2, playing bad. This reaction was not good and everybody apologized for it. And this made us be joined and go to Belgrade thinking that we have to play good basketball. This is what we did.”

Williams-Goss shined with a season-high 22 points in Game 3 in Belgrade, including a clutch three-pointer with 24.8 seconds to go that snapped a 77-77 tie. He spoke about that game and the mindset needed to go to Belgrade and walk away with two wins.

As a player and as a competitor, I feel like you don’t reach this level of playing at a place like Real Madrid without a different mindset. I feel like, speaking for myself, I don’t have a normal mindset. A normal person could say we’re down 0-2 going into maybe the toughest environment in Europe so there’s no way we’re gonna win. But again, I didn’t get to this point in my career by thinking regular and normal,” Williams-Goss said.

I had belief, I had confidence, and yeah, maybe it’s not my role every night on this team to score 20, for sure we have a lot of great players. But I’m more than capable. I’ve shown that throughout my career that I can score, I can defend, I can do whatever the team needs me to do to win a game. I had a lot of confidence going into Game 3 that if we got that one, the pressure would switch a little bit.

The road to the championship saw Real win five consecutive games with its back to the wall: Two in Belgrade, Game 5 of the playoffs at home in Madrid, the Final Four semifinal against FC Barcelona, and the championship game against Olympiacos Piraeus. The last of those came down to the final shot and when Real had the ball and needed to score on its final possession, Coach Mateo made it clear that it was clear who was going to take it.

Sergio [Llull] didn’t score in the game, but all of us know that he is the best in this kind of situation. So it doesn’t matter if he’s scored or not, When we came to the bench I asked him: ‘Hey Sergio. Sergi. This is for you?’ He said: ‘For me.’ No question. All the teammates know that it is his ball and he’s gonna take the last one. He managed very good the situation because he’s done it in the past and he’s the man in these situations,” Mateo said.

He did it once again. It was good to see a picture of the shot because this is something I am going to put in a frame at home in a privileged place in my house. It was amazing what happened at the end.